Suffolk Building Society Conveyancing Panel Information

The information on this page is designed to keep solicitors and licensed conveyancers abreast of latest requirements changes by Suffolk Building Society and to assist in remaining on the Suffolk Building Society Conveyancing Panel.

Suffolk Building Society Conveyancing Panel Information:

What are the Suffolk Building Society conveyancing panel criteria?
Unlike the CML the Building Society Mortgage Instructions deal with this. Section A.12 states ‘In order to act on our behalf your firm or company must be a member of our conveyancing panel provided we are a society that operates one – see specific requirements for details of our arrangements. The Special Requirements state:

The Society operates a Conveyancing Panel and in order for Firms to act for the Society you must be appointed to this panel. To be appointed to the panel you should apply at:-
 www.lms.com/lenderpanels
 

You must also comply with the terms and conditions of your Suffolk Building Society solicitor panel appointment.

Is it probable that Suffolk Building Society will assign another firm on the Suffolk Building Society lender panel for a further advance during the lifetime of a mortgage ?
The Building Society Association Mortgage Instructions relevant to a solicitor on the Suffolk Building Society conveyancing panel indicates that when a further advance is required for alterations or improvements to the property we will not normally instruct a member of the Suffolk Building Society conveyancing panel but if you are instructed the appropriate provisions of the BSA mortgage instruction will need to be followed .
Am I obliged, being on the Suffolk Building Society conveyancing panel, to carry out a flood search?
Suffolk Building Society make no specific obligation to carry out any of the searches listed. The BSA Mortgage Instructions simply states that ‘you must ensure that any other searches which may be appropriate to the particular property, taking into account its locality and other features are carried out’.

Remember that most ‘less usual searches’ (as described in the Law Society’s Conveyancing Handbook) are not optional as far as Suffolk Building Society are concerned if they are ‘appropriate’. Most lenders will not require environmental searches (you should Check the Suffolk Building Society Specific Requirements of BSA Handbook to be sure), but you are obliged to explain risks and availability to the borrower.

Ground stability, Plansearch,flood searches as well as the searches listed in the question are optional – but only to the extent that you have allowed the borrower client to make an informed choice. Regardless of whether there is a mortgage, If you have not advised the client that these (and other) searches are available and what risks they cover, then you will be liable if the client suffers loss through not conducting one.

I understand that Suffolk Building Society could request or audit my files as I am on the Suffolk Building Society conveyancing panel. How should I respond in the event of such a demand?
We can't comment specifically on Suffolk Building Society. Many major lenders are now introducing ‘file auditing’ as standard practice in relation to completed matters. This raises questions of confidentiality in relation to the borrower and the purpose to which the results of such audits will be put. The starting point is to remember that the file does not belong to your firm, it belongs to the ‘client’. But, of course, we will normally have two clients – the buyer and the lender - and you will owe a duty of confidentiality to each. So basically, you have to separate the file and just send the lender the parts solely relating to themselves. But, of course, as this will basically be correspondence with the lender, mortgage instructions etc.

Check with your Compliance Officer, but a firm should not send the complete conveyancing file without the borrower client’s express consent – and if he is in arrears with the lender he is hardly likely to agree. However, if the lender can establish a prima facie case of fraud, then you may be under an obligation to disclose the whole file.

The emerging convention is that lenders are including an authority to disclose in loan application forms to counter this problem. Mortgage Express v Sawali, 2010 EWHC 3054 (Ch) indicates that such provisions valid? Please click here for more information about that case.

As the Compliance Officer for Legal Practice should I be thinking about SRA Handbook implications if my firm is withdrawn off the Suffolk Building Society solicitor panel?
The answer to this question really depends on the reason that your firm has been removed off the Suffolk Building Society conveyancing panel. The top 3 reasons are as follows:
  1. lack of transactions
  2. the lawyer is a sole practitioner
  3. as part of the HSBC panel reduction.
In these three circumstances it is unlikely that you would expected to take any action. Disclosure and other compliance considerations are more likely to be relevant if the reason for removal is due to breaches of lender requirements or allegations of fraud or negligence. Whether the reasoning should trigger a disclosable 'material' breach will depend on the firm and the circumstances around possible failures to comply with the SRA Authorisation Rules, and the SRA will judge each case on its own merits. Factors such as the detriment or risk of detriment to clients, the scale of the issue and overall impact on the firm will need to be considered in deciding whether a failure is 'material'. As the COLP you will need systems to identify patterns of breaches. Even if you don't consider there to be regulatory implications, the firms COFA needs to consider whether he or she needs to take any action as result of being removed from the conveyancing panel of Suffolk Building Society.
We had our Suffolk Building Society panel membership terminated but we have not yet been given an explanation yet . I am completing a CQS application questionnaire what information should I put forward?
In the circumstances please clarify on the application what steps you have taken to find out the reasons behind cancellation of your Suffolk Building Society panel membership . In particular please provide details if you have received communications from the lender. E.G. before revocation of your panel membership did you receive any letters or calls from the lender informing you as to why they reached this decision?
What lender panels do you receive the most questions about?
BSA lenders do not come within the top 20 lenders in terms of frequency of questions. The most popular lender panels in terms of questions are as follows:

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Average number of days to register title including a charge in favour of Suffolk Building Society
This information relates to purchase only and not remortgages.
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* Data aggregated from sources including COMPLETIONmonitor